As I shielded my face from the fifty-third “adopt a mangled animal” commercial/ depressing Sarah McLachlan music video, I began pondering the world of domesticated animals. I myself have seen more than my fair share of pets come and go through my household over the years. When people inform me that they’ve had “the same dog since they were five” I stare in astonishment that they’ve kept an animal for such a lengthy duration of time. In my family, the norm was to purchase cute little fluffy canines (with steep pet store price tags) then give them away to cleaning ladies, the old guy next door, farms, friends, friends of friends, that lady down the street that may or may not practice Witchcraft, etc. My mom has a nasty habit of purchasing animals because she finds them utterly adorable, then realizing our family is terrible at training anything with fur, she hands it off a more “deserving family” like a game of hot potato—but with pets. I’m fairly certain she’s on the most wanted list for PETA and the Humane Society… but on PetCo’s VIP list.
In my twenty-five years of life I estimate that we’ve owned about 15-20 dogs. And for the incredulous of the bunch, I will list (the ones I can recall):
Greyhound (kept escaping and running laps around the neighborhood), Greyhound (bit my brother), golden retriever, bishon, poodle, poodle, poodle, teacup poodle (clearly this is the hideous old people dogs phase), boxer (only peed on window coverings), English bulldog (he lasted15 years but this was my dad’s dog so it doesn’t count… I just include him because a week before he was scheduled for Euthanasia, my step-mom ran over his head #irony) American bulldog (used his massive under bite to chew through drywall), yorkie (mom gave to old man next door for no reason, then months later told me to ‘go get her back’), teacup yorkie (died after a week – intestinal parasite), Pomeranian (mom brought it home, we called it ugly, mom returned it), beagle (would only poop on the kitchen table), mini greyhound (we found it, kept it for a few days, owner showed up), cockapoo (we still have him because he’s basically sedated 24/7) and the newest edition, a pointer/lab mix nicknamed “the beast” courtesy of my idiot brother (I give this one a year). Fortunately, mom declined to renew her “Puppy of the Month” membership, so we haven’t hosted an animal garage sale in quite some time.
|Captain WetBeard, Straight Chilin|
I won’t even discuss people that hoard felines like hurricane supplies, dress them in sweaters and insist upon showing others mobile photos of the cats lying on a plastic-covered couch. Poking fun at these people is far too easy, especially since they are already aware that their existence is as nauseating as the I LOVE MY KITTY bumper sticker on their VW Bug.
On the other side of the spectrum away from people who purchase puppies like handbags are those that procure completely worthless animals and stick them in cages to stare at. When we were kids, three of my brothers went through a reptile phase—and not the Big Tymers kind with Gata Boots and Pimped out Gucci Suits—a phase where they housed cages of reptilian creatures in their BEDROOM. A phase I like to call the Dark n Scaly Ages. Because of their creepy crawly fetish, the family was forced to frequent a lovely establishment called “Glades Herp.” Now, I’m not sure what a “herp” is outside the sphere of STDs I’d rather not contract, but this joint resembles like a giant flesh eating disease, so I guess the name fits. It’s basically a shack in the middle of nowhere painted green and filled with monstrous beasts that have no business being taken out of whatever uninhibited jungle they once lived in. Beyond the doorway, The Herp is a far cry from PetCo’s semi-clean floors and everything in its rightful cage where the only irksome factor is the scent of feces and dead beta fish and the fact that any human with arms is permitted to hold the animals. The Herp was like walking through a portal into the depths of a Peruvian rain forest—even the muggy air was a thick mist, riddled with the uncertainty of which creature will sink its fangs, talons or teeth into my ankle. Random creatures scurried about, unbound by the glass confinement that should’ve existed between that 4-foot iguana and the human population. Regardless of my uneasiness, I was forced to accompany the goon squad to this reptilian hell on numerous occasions that I’ve managed to lock in the vault of contaminated memories only to be unveiled when I meet Oprah, Dr. Phil or Maury Povich. As I walked through the narrow aisles lined with scaly creatures in a fashion as to not accidentally brush up against anything dirty, diseased or potentially fatal, Numbnutses 1-3 would tear through the place like wild banshees, deciding which useless pet purchase to make next.
I once suggested the tiny hairless mice so delicately huddled together in a tank near the counter and the charming bald man with holes in his ears the size of my cranium and a python wrapped around his neck informed me that those little critters were food for his serpent friend, not meant for pet purchase. During this time, our home served as a habitat for: three “house” geckoes, two leopard geckoes, one water lizard, one chameleon, and MY personal favorite: three SCORPIONS. Who in their right mind sees a scorpion and says: “you know what, that Prehistoric looking creature with the terrifying stinger on it’s tail would make a GREAT pet.” Although, they did glow neon green beneath a black light, which was pretty cool/ entertaining for half a minute. These “pets” served no purpose, died when their feedings were forgotten and a few eventually wound up hiding in the cereal cabinet until one morning when one decided to fly at my stepmom’s face like a rabid spider monkey. My brother once convinced me to “hold” his pet leopard gecko and the slithering Satan lock-jawed on my index finger until the force of my frantically waving hand propelled it against a wall. There I stood, finger bleeding, watching as my brother and two of MY friends rush to the rescue of the scaly shit that bit me, while I tried to recall the last Hepatitis shot I received. Thankfully, my disgusting siblings grew out of the reptile fixation with age and replaced lizards with other green things from nature.
Most children fall victim to this pointless pet phase, some more than others. I used to liberate turtles crossing the road, then turn around and incarcerate them in a circular fenced area, name them all “Jake the Dirtmonster” and forget about them until they would escape. Or dad would let them go and lie to me. I also made the drastic mistake of purchasing the foul rodent they call hamster. I thought the little balls of fur were cute and imagined them running around the house in one of those little plastic balls. Instead, those shitbrains bit my finger every time I tried to touch them, only ran on the wheel past 10pm and attempted to chew their way out of two different cages. I grew to loathe these little beasts, as their nightly chomping at the bars of the metal cage kept me wide-eyed until the wee hours of the morn. I once placed a sheet over the cage, thinking that the darkness would prompt the little shits to sleep. they merely chewed through a good third of the bedsheet and shredded the rest onto my carpet. I can’t recall whether I released them into the wild, euthanized them or gave them to a cripple kid. Regardless, my children will never enter a pet store unless they are applying for employment.